SNAP Hunger Awareness Challenge: Day 6

Today is my last day on the SNAP Challenge. I look at food a little differently. $5.00 for a coffee drink? Really? The 5 Dollar Footlong… that’s 2 meals, right? (What about breakfast?)

Breakfast today was on the run, with a little convenience food. I would not have eaten the relatively small breakfast pita at this price (nor would I have bought them unless they were 30% off) had I not had so much money left over for the week. It was not a good choice for the price… not filling at all. I also ate a slice of wheat bread with peanut butter. No fruit or vegetable.

  • muesli breakfast pita: .49
  • 1 slice homemade wheat bread: .08
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter: .09
  • Breakfast total: .66

Lunch was a near repeat of last night’s dinner, Spiced Cauliflower.

  • 1/2 head cauliflower: 1.00
  • onion, garlic, spices: .17
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil: .08
  • red pepper chutney: .32
  • wheat bread: .08
  • 1/2 cup applesauce: .16
  • Lunch total: 1.81

I’m fortunate to have a microwave and refrigerator at work. If I didn’t have these resources, what would I bring? I think I would be more tempted by convenience foods. I can’t believe the amount of pre-portioned, over-packaged food in the store. I appreciate the time it saves for a busy family though, especially if you had to plan all these costs per serving like I’m doing, and using my own containers. But they’re still outrageously expensive, and the amount of waste is outrageous too. My son just started Kindergarten, and I recall the outlay for reusable lunchbox containers.

And what would happen if I forgot my lunch? I couldn’t run over to the cafe for a $4.75 hummus wrap like I normally would. Or order Jimmy John’s with the rest of the office.

Speaking of Jimmy John’s, that’s what the rest of my family had planned for dinner before we were to leave for a weekend road trip. Not for me. I carefully calculated the money I have left over for the week: $4.50 for today + $1.31 surplus for the week, subtract breakfast and lunch, and I guess I could go without the apple I brought for a snack… equals…

Not enough – $3.37 left. Short of the $4.45 I would need for the Vegetarian, hold the cheese and mayo to make it vegan. (Do you think a person on this budget would throw away the cheese?) It’s worth noting that a “Plain Slim” is $3.25 (bread + cheese and meat), so I guess I could buy that, throw away the meat and cheese, and eat a plain loaf of (very expensive) bread.

My dinner was a taco salad, and it was a lot better than a plain loaf of bread.

  • 2 cups spinach (not baby or organic): .83
  • 1/2 cup Chipotle Black Beans: .16
  • 1 cup iceberg lettuce: .21
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels: .12
  • 1/4 cup salsa: .31
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk: .50
  • apple (afternoon snack): .60
  • Dinner (and snack) total: 2.73

Day 6 total: $5.20 (up $ .64 for the week)
Calories: 1,075

Did I get enough nutrients?

I used the free tool at to track nutrition information for the last 6 days. Here’s a summary.

NUTRIENTS: GOAL 9/4 9/5 9/6 9/7 9/8 9/9 9/10
Calories: 1,449 1,058 1,261 1,014 1,262 1,118 1,075
Fat: 32 – 56 32 25 15 23 17 32 26
Calcium: 100 – 150 18 20 35 12 17 48 57
Fiber, total dietary: 25 – 35 33 27 18 26 28 32 33
Iron: 100 – 150 54 58 51 40 53 38 56
Sodium: 0 – 2,300 1,349 1,305 361 539 1,192 1,411 1,149
Protein: 50 – 62 39 48 29 35 42 48 40
Carbohydrates: 300 – 375 271 169 269 175 258 167 185

I did not eat enough calories to sustain a 33 year old woman of my height and weight, resulting in 1.5 lbs lost since the beginning of the challenge, despite exercising less this week.

  • Fat is low, but I believe the recommended guidelines for fat in a diet are too high, so I’m ok with this.
  • I never met my calcium requirement during the week. I usually eat more broccoli, cereal, and tofu than this.
  • Plenty of fiber here, thanks to a big effort to get plenty of fruits and veggies.
  • Iron and carbohydrates are low on most days.
  • Sodium looks great. Probably from a low amount of processed food.
  • Protein is ok, but could be a bit better on some days.

If I had been eating more calories, most of these numbers would have improved.

I learned a lot on this challenge. I’m glad it’s over, because I was hungry all the time. I did my best to eat good food, but I think I needed more of it. I have a new appreciation for being able to choose my meals at will.

The planning time it takes to get by and eat healthfully on such a small budget is intense. It was difficult at times to get a variety of fruits and vegetables. But I think there are many healthy foods are not more expensive, if you’re willing to do some cooking and shop around for deals. It matters what is available in your area. And it seems that luck sometimes helps, too.

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